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The Goose Girl

Reading Discussion Guides

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

About the Book

She was born with her eyes closed and a word on her tongue, a word she could not taste. Her name was Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, and she spent the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s stories and learning the language of the birds, especially the swans. And when she was older, she watched as a colt was born, and she heard the first word on his tongue, his name, Falada.

From the Grimm’s fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become queen, Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original, and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can lead the people she has made her own.

About the Author

Shannon Hale was a storyteller from birth. At age 10, she began to write books, mostly fantasy stories where she was the heroine. Hale continued to write secretly for years while pursuing acting in television, stage, and improv comedy. After detours studying in Mexico, the UK, and a year and a half as an unpaid missionary in Paraguay, Shannon earned a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Utah. She was finally forced out of the writers’ closet when she received her Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Montana.

The Goose Girl, her critically acclaimed first book, is an ALA Teens’ Top Ten and Josette Frank Award winner. Enna Burning, River Secrets, and Forest Born are companion books to Goose Girl, continuing the Bayern books series. Princess Academy is a Newbery Honor Book and a New York Times best seller. She and her husband Dean co-wrote the graphic novel Rapunzel’s Revenge, which was selected by Today’s Al Roker for Al’s Book Club for Kids.

For more information about the author, watch our video interview with Shannon Hale.

Discussion Questions

  • Ani is stripped of her rightful crown by her mother, and forced into poverty and virtual slave labor by those who are hired to protect and care for her. While traumatic and dramatic, in the end these life changes prove to be good for Ani. How so? What does she learn about herself? What does she learn from those who befriend her along her journey? How would things have been different between Geric and Ani had she not gone through these trials?
  • Discuss Ani’s relationship with her mother. Do you think the queen truly loves her daughter if she is able to deny her daughter’s birthright? Do you believe her mother’s actions are a betrayal? A political move? A move to protect her daughter? A selfish act? What makes you believe this? How would you feel if your mother denied you something you felt entitled to?
  • What do you think Ani’s mother, brother, and sisters would say if they learned how she saved their kingdom from annihilation? Do you think they would regret how they treated her? What would Ani’s aunt say? Whose approval do you think would be most important to Ani? Why?
  • On cold evenings Ani joins the other animal workers and roasts nuts by the fire and learns to play games. For the first time in her life, Ani must learn to build friendships with people who are not paid to be her companions. What skills does she develop? How does she turn these strangers, especially Enna, into such dear friends that they are willing to endanger their lives for her?
  • Although Ani has the gift of animal-speaking, she is forced to hide it from others. How would her life have been different had this been a valued gift in her own kingdom? Have you ever known someone who has hidden his or her talents? Would you feel comfortable exhibiting yours at all times?
  • Fairy tales often share common characteristics-the use of the number three, magical elements, transformations, misleading appearances, and the conquest of good over evil. Additionally, the hero or heroine is often infallible. Which elements did Shannon Hale decide to incorporate into The Goose Girl? Which ones did she omit? Why do you think so?
  • Discuss this quote from the author: “Tales are fascinating things. They seem to me to be the poetry of history-all the superfluous bits are worn down, tossed away, leaving only the sharpest images, the strongest words, the barest stories. But those stories survive. To do so, I believe they must hold some real human truth. They speak to each reader in a different way, and yet appeal universally to readers and storytellers over decades and centuries.” Do you agree with the author? What do you think she means by the phrase “real human truth”? How is this shown throughout the novel?
The Goose Girl

The Goose Girl

Shannon Hale
Age Level:
Fairy Tales, Folktales and Myths